The recent updated bait fish proposed regulations released by the DEC reminded me of just how complex our fishing – and in some cases hunting – regulations and laws have become in recent years.
The bait fish regulations were established shortly after Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) was first confirmed in New York waters in May, 2006 in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. VHS is a disease that causes hemorrhaging of the fish’s tissues, including internal organs. There is no known cure for VHS.
The three transportation corridors listed by the DEC include: along Lake Erie-Upper Niagara River; the Lower Niagara River-Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River; and, the Hudson River from the Federal Dam at Troy downstream to the Tappan Zee Bridge. The designated waterbodies also include their tributaries upstream to the first impassable barrier to fish. Only certified disease-free baitfish may be transported in motorized vehicles outside of the transportation corridors specified in the proposed regulations. Details of the transportation corridors are contained in the proposed regulations and may be viewed on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/73305.html.
These new corridors reflect the previous bait fish regs that basically said all natural baits must be used exclusively in the watershed systems they were taken from, and all purchased baits must be certified VHS-free by DEC. The new proposed regs have less impact on us, although capturing bait from one watershed system, then transporting it and using it in another system is still prohibited. The newly developed corridors reflect the most likely hotspots where VHS-infected baits may be encountered.